The YES! at the Philosophy Family Farm Webinar Series has Begun!

Written by Zach Schmitt, Earth Charter Young Leader (USA)

Seeing how the message and universality of the Earth Charter has created a series of interconnections throughout my life has been very interesting to watch, and this spring, these interconnections have led to the creation of an awesome three-part webinar series focused on the Inner Development Goals (IDGs), the Earth Charter, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that my family’s farm, The Philosophy Family Farm, has started for my dad’s environmental consulting company here in the United States. My sister, Zoë, and I are thrilled to introduce these wonderful concepts to this company with our family through our new project, YES! At The Philosophy Family Farm (You, the Environment, and Sustainability) and to collaborate with a different Earth Charter Young Leader (ECYL) as a guest speaker for each webinar! The first webinar, which focused on the IDGs, was on Friday, 14 April 2023. The second and third ones will focus on the Earth Charter and the SDGs will be in May and June, respectively. The goal for the webinar series is to start a new way of sustainability thinking with respect to this company and other corporations by bridging the gap between corporate structures/ideas and sustainable actions that can benefit all things connected to the corporations and create a more holistic self-identity for the corporations. My family and I are so excited to have started this project with my dad’s company, and I am looking forward to seeing how the beauty and content of the webinar topics have a positive impact on this company, and ultimately, other corporations/ corporate systems and their ways of thinking.

I am very curious to see the effect that the webinar series has on my dad’s company, since they have been making efforts recently to include more sustainable practices in their systematic environment. The company just became certified as a B corporation, or B Corp for short (with the B standing for Benefit), which is a certification for for-profit companies’ social and environmental performance, and given out by the B Lab, a global non-profit organization. The B Corp certification is a signifier of a company’s high level of accountability, transparency, employee benefits, and charitable giving, in all different areas, such as environmental and social. With this recent push, I am enthusiastic about how initiatives and documents such as the IDGs, the Earth Charter, and the SDGs which advocate for a new approach to life, organization, and development can be incorporated into the projects and morals being practiced by this company!

On Friday, 14 April, my dad presented the first webinar, which is called Inside/Outside: Introducing the Inner Development Goals, while Zoë and I shared the slides and the videos/activity forums for the presentation. In this webinar, the focus was on how the IDGs can provide a great first step in the journey to the implementation of the goals we have for becoming a more sustainable world (laying a framework focused on the philosophical foundation of values and capacities that we have within us, which eventually leads to the ethical compass of the Earth Charter and the final goal implementation of the SDGs). My dad gave some in-depth examples of how the 5 IDGs (Being, Thinking, Relating, Collaborating, and Acting) can be brought into the corporation’s activities, plans, and projects.

After sharing the official video about the IDGs, we moved on to the topic of real-life examples of IDGs being put into action by corporations, and for this topic, we were happy to introduce Chloé Bernardino, an ECYL from France, IDG Hub member, and a good friend of me and Zoë, who talked about corporate projects focusing on IDG values in a recorded video she had sent us (Chloé also was able to attend the webinar—yay!). Chloé talked about the Flourishing Lab Incubator, an initiative started by Dr. Sanae Tabnaoui Gassmann, a researcher who created the Lab to ensure the health and wellbeing of employees at Novartis, a pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland. She also brought up the Dutch company Tony’s Chocolonely, which makes chocolate that is 100% exploitation-free and that also has traceable cocoa beans and supports farming cooperatives.

After Chloé’s presentation, my dad spoke about an important new stormwater regulation in the United States that became effective at the beginning of this year, which led to a discussion about how the IDGs can be put into action through things like acknowledging the stormwater location (for Being’s Self Awareness) and having understanding for populations that exist downstream from where stormwater flooding can occur (for Relating’s Compassion). At the end of the presentation, Zoë and I shared a word cloud for a Dialectical Thought Form (DTF), which is a form that shows a system or idea in a dialectical way (explaining things through asking why, like the philosopher Socrates’ practice of the Dialectic); in this case, the subject of the DTF was realizing and identifying the complexity awareness of the company.

We then shared an activity idea for the webinar participants that can be done for the next month until the next webinar in May—the activity is to plant a seed, and when it is watered every day, to write down the changes seen in the plant. The activity also encourages asking questions such as, “how does a seed hold possibilities?” and “what seed ideas can you plant within your projects?” The webinar closed with some final words about how the incorporation of IDG principles has already been shown and celebrated in different places, and this kind of practice can extend into the company and other corporate environments that have the potential to do creative things with the information and the experiences. The CEO of the company was able to attend the meeting, and he was really impressed with the presentation, and how, with the incorporation of these IDG principles in the projects, the company can become more than just a business, and can redirect their focus on something innovative and unique, in alignment with their values and aspirations. What an amazing experience this was!

The next webinar will be held in May, and will be about the Earth Charter, featuring another guest ECYL. My family and I are so grateful to be sharing the teachings we have learned from the Earth Charter and other networks, and I am excited to see these ideas spread to places that could really expand their insights and the scope of what is offered to all communities, once given the opportunities to showcase their skills in a sustainable way. I cannot wait for the next webinar and the rest of the series, as this engaging process unfolds and begins to grow into something that can be inspiring for everyone on Earth, starting from what is right around us and leading to what is beyond, in all its ability to be beneficial and wonderful for all!